Septemus 17


Dear Sept,

When I looked in on you tonight, you were smiling in your sleep.

It’s taken us a while, but it finally feels like we’re moving into a happy stretch.

You love school. You know, my background is in education. Seeing you engrossed in your studies makes me a proud and joyful dad.


When homework’s done, it’s time for play!

With the park next door, you’ve got a large play area and more play equipment than I could ever afford. We’ve come to think of the park as our own backyard.

You love the pirate ship.


You’ve been making friends with the neighborhood kids, whom you recruit for crew.

“Captain!” your boatswain yelled. “There’s a big giant pink whale off the starboard side of the poop deck! Ha! Get it? Poop deck!”


You haven’t really got the time nor patience for jokes.

You’re too focused on your duties as captain. Somebody’s got to steer the ship to avoid crashing into the rocks near shore.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
              Of his bones are coral made;
    Those are pearls that were his eyes:
              Nothing of him that doth fade,
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange.


You’ve got a good memory for songs. I read you The Tempest a few nights ago, and we sang Ariel’s song. Now you sing it while you’re playing, walking, dancing.

You were singing it at the playground before supper and then again before bed.

“You like that song?” I asked you.

“Yeah. It’s funny,” you said. “I like the part about thosearepearlsthatwerehiseyes and seachangerichandstrange. It’s like even though the kid’s bizaabgotojo is dead and it’s a disaster, he’s not really dead because he’s something wonderful at the bottom of the sea. I like that.”


You’ve got a funny way of thinking. It’s deep and profound, and I like it.

Sometimes I wonder if your bizoopagotogo think the way you do. Or maybe, this is the way everyone thinks on your planet of origin.

And sometimes, I wonder if it was a result of being orphaned and separated from your kin that fostered that deep and thoughtful part of your nature.

And sometimes, I wonder if it is just you–if this is simply who you are, Septemus Sevens: a perceptive, quirky, quiet, pensive, mischievous, insightful, curious boy.

When you were sad, I worried about you being so sensitive.

When you were mad, I wondered about you being so perceptive.

But now that you’re happy and well-adjusted, I simply love all of you. You’re a miracle of a kid, Sept. And this world is better having you here.


Sleep well, moon-munchkin.

–Your pops, who loves you very much

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Whisper 2.04

Dear Mom,

This is the winter of the Snow Day! But of course, you already know that, for you are here with us often, especially with Bo, who always seems to sense when you’ll be around.

Is it OK if I still write to you? You see, that voice was right. It does help. All my questions, all my worries fade when I write to you, and life makes sense. How did you get that gift, Mom, the gift of understanding all of life’s quirks? I hope I get that some day.

When Snow Day is called, we race outside and build snowmen and catch snowflakes on our tongues.


Riley loves to throw impromptu Snow Tea parties. The kids are too busy playing to join her.


I’ve been making a point of spending special time with Bo. Patches and Riley make a natural duo, so while they play chess or work together on craft projects, I’ll often head out with Bo to do something fun.

The other day, we were at the park after supper. It was dark and the snow was falling.

“This is what it will be like someday,” Bo said, “eternally dark. Only imagine that it’s ashes, not snowflakes.”

“What are you talking about, Bo?” I asked him.

“Nothing,” he said, and he started humming. Sometimes, he’s really weird.


But then, the next minute he’s like a regular kid.

“Race you home,” he called, and he hopped on his bike and stared pedaling.


He’s fast for a little sprout, and I had to race to catch up with him.


When we got home, Riley was in the rocker.

“What’s up, Ri?” I asked. She just sat and rocked. She can be a little odd sometimes, too, but I never worry about that, for odd or normal, she’s always sweet.

“You aren’t sad, are you, Ri?”

She was a little sad, she said. Mom, she said she’d been thinking about destiny–can you believe it?  And how destiny can change your life. I had to laugh. Because isn’t destiny what determines your life course?

But she said not always. Sometimes, she said, your life can have a course that seems predetermined, but then destiny steps in and shifts it to a new course. What do you think, Mom? It’s beyond me. I think we simply live, one day after the next, and where we find ourselves, that’s where we are.


In fact, that’s the theme of my first novel. I’m really finding it gratifying to write. It’s like with writing to you: all the loose ends inside of me fall into place when I write, and when I step away from the keyboard, I feel something that feels a lot like peace.


When I’m not using the computer, guess who’s on it? Patches! She is a chess fanatic. She’ll play me or Riley, if we’re available for a game, but she prefers to play chess online.

“I can find better matches,” she told me, “with real opponents who make me think.”


Finally, they cleared the roads out to our house, and we had an actual school day!

I made your famous pancakes for Patches and Bo’s breakfast. I’ve got to admit, I was really looking forward to a day with them at school. I’m at this point in my novel where the main character first takes a trip to Al Simhara, and as I write it, I can feel the sun pouring down, just like we felt on our trip there. So the more time to myself and the quieter the house, the better.


“Don’t miss me,” Bo said as he headed off to catch the bus. I swear, sometimes he seems like he’s practicing to be a heart breaker! Especially when he’s dressed up in his dapper overcoat.


“I don’t think I’ll remember anything,” Patches said. It had been a long time since her last day at school!

“Don’t worry!” I told her. “I’ll give you special help when you get home.”


She was starving when she got home. I dished her up a giant slice of cake, and she ate while Bo worked on his homework.


Then, we got down to the tutoring. She’s really smart, she just hasn’t yet figured out how to apply her smarts to her school work.

“Think of it like a puzzle,” I told her. “Rather than trying to memorize all the rules, see if you can figure them out.”

And a little while later, division started making a lot more sense to her.


Mom, I wish you’d had more of a chance to get to know her. I’m sure you’d love everything about her.

It’s kind of funny that she used to be Bo’s imaginary friend. They actually don’t get along that well anymore, not since Bo started knocking down her snowmen.

“Do you think we’ll ever be friends again?” she asked me.

I told her, sure, that Bo’s the reason she’s here! And you never forget your IF!


Bo talks about you all the time, Mom. At night, when he heads out, he tells me he’s going to hang out with you.

“Tell her ‘Hi’ from me!” I always say.


When he comes back in again, he’s always got something to say that he could only have learned from you.

“Grim is nothing to be afraid of, that’s what she says,” Bo said the other night. “She says he just takes you across from one side to the next.”


“That doesn’t sound so bad,” I replied.

“It is,” Bo said. “It’s awful. And I don’t buy a word of it. Next time I see Grim, you know what I’m going to do to him?”


I shook my head.

“Ka-BLOO-ey!” Bo shouted. “Awesome Destruct-o.”


Mom, Bo’s got his own way about him, that’s for sure.

I keep reminding myself, as long as we love him–as long as he loves us back–it’ll all turn out OK, right? Isn’t that what you’d have me believe?

Hope we see you soon. I miss you.



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